Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding Happiness Saves Me Money

The game of life can be one continuous learning experience filled with plenty of self-growth. Part of life’s education for me has come in the form of learning what makes me happy when it comes to my life, lifestyle and personal finances. While certain people might find that happiness costs money, in some cases, it might actually help save money. Understanding what makes me happy, actually helps keep my costs relatively low and makes me a stronger and more financially independent person, which in turn, makes me even happier.

Home Life
I’ll admit, I’m pretty happy being a homebody. I work from home. I take care of the kids from home. And while I like a good dinner or night out with the wife occasionally, it’s not something I have to have on a consistent or nightly basis.

This positive outlook of spending time at home saves us money in a number of areas. First off, we save on the cost of a second vehicle since I can work from home. Without even factoring in the cost of car payments, the initial outlay for the vehicle or depreciation, we likely save between $1,500 and $2,000 a year on insurance, parking, gas, oil changes, and regular upkeep and repairs.

Similarly, since I’m at home, I’m also able to care for the kids, which adds significantly to our savings. With child care costs often running between $10,000 and $14,000 a year -- not to mention the costs of transporting the children between home and outside care providers -- you can see how this saves us huge amount of money on two kids.

While my income took a significant hit when I moved from hotel finance into a self-employed role, I love my job and the freedom it provides, and I’ve made up for this income loss in other ways. I’ve already mentioned one of them, childcare. And then there are other savings on things like meals out when at work, and costs related to working outside the home like work attire, transportation costs, and similar expenses that likely add up to thousands in savings each year.

On transportation alone, I save about 10 gallons of gas a week compared to my previous commute -- or at today’s prices in the Chicagoland area, about $2,000 a year -- and about $1,450 from when I used to take the commuter train.

Downsized Living
I really don’t like the accumulation of stuff. It makes me feel good to live a downsized lifestyle in which I control possessions rather than the other way around. From resale options to reducing the size of our home, finding what makes us happy by way of reducing the stuff around us has ended up saving us money.

For example, our previous home was costing us nearly $2,700 a month to maintain (including utilities). However, the time effort and money that was going into maintaining this home was not something that made us happy. Therefore, we sold; downsizing considerably to a much smaller condo in an area that we love and in a home is averaging about $900 a month to maintain (also including utilities).

And by doing things like having regular garage sales, taking things we no longer want or need to resale or consignment shops, and donating other goods to charitable organizations, we often recognize hundreds of dollars in extra income and/or savings each year.

1 comment:

  1. I musta missed the post about bambino #2 - congrats! :) Hope you guys are doing well!